Friday, January 27, 2017

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others DieMade to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So I liked this book, so that earns it 3 stars, apparently. The concept of how to make ideas stick strikes me as universally useful, and within my capability. I am a believer of the research surrounding fact-filled, distant communication vs compelling, story-based, emotional communication, so I think that most people could benefit from this book. I say "could" because to me it had a major flaw. I felt that it was written in the very style it was suggesting us NOT to use. At the end it was a checklist of features that should make your idea sticky, but I can't remember, nor can I envision how to apply, that checklist.

What is interesting is that I can see how they tried to avoid the traps they identified. They used many stories themselves, many of which I can recall even though it took me a while to read the book. But those ideas are generally not connected to the ideas they were promoting. I don't know which checklist item I am supposed to attach each story to. Just like a bad class in school, I will need to sit down and study and memorize to get those ideas to "stick", but the whole thesis of the book is that if you structure the message right, that isn't necessary.

Example: Jared and Subway. I like this story (despite Jared's subsequent fall from grace). I remember that it was supposed to promote the idea of identifying sticky stories, but that is it. How do I do that? I don't remember, and the key part of the Jared story, the challenger theme, has nothing to do with THEIR objective: to teach me how to find stories.

Example: Simplicity is an important part of a sticky story, but in the end, their concepts read more like a textbook than a sticky idea. The checklist has more bullet points than I can remember, so when it came time for the information to "stick" I'm overwhelmed by the data (curse of knowledge) and I'm ready to shred the book and never look back.

This is all very familiar, because this is very close to how I felt about their other book, Switch, which is about change. I really preferred Influencer, by another set of authors, to Switch because Influencer introduced similar information, but with a visual model that simplified it for me. I plan on re-reading Influencer again soon, but even without the refresher, I can still visualize the general look and feel of that graphic, and it calls to mind various parts of their book. I feel that this is something the Heath brothers could benefit from, and, well, make their books more sticky.

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